Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Exhibit A:

Try this at home, kids! The above is a one-of-a-kind, 100% completely accurate litmus test for racism! A sort of Rorschach test for prejudice, if you will, for this image is exactly what the observer wants it to be. Follow these steps:

1. Show this to someone you know. If they find Gisele to be overrated due to her lack of titties, or express interest in the no-exercise diet, then you have witnessed a perfectly normal reaction to this otherwise uninspiring cover for a magazine no one really reads unless they are in the waiting room at the dentist. Skip to Step 4. However, if the person in question deems the image to be racist or offensive, then you have a real, live bigot on your hands. And, if that isn't bad enough, you would be in the presence of the worst (OK, second-to-worst) kind; the latent racist. The latent racist, or LR, is a person who, amid vehement claims to the contrary, harbors a deep-seated and potentially dangerous form of racial misunderstanding and/or resentment. At least the Archie Bunkers of the world are honest.

2. The latent racist, at this point, should not be openly ridiculed or chastised. Rather, you should maintain eye contact and slowly back away, smiling affirmatively. The latent racist is the most dangerous of the non-violent racist breed, and should be treated with a measure of caution. The LR is irrational, you see, and sees a visage of King Kong where there is really just a picture of a forward for a hopelessly lost basketball franchise. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to; naively positing that affirmative action is a good idea, a feverish, unsupported support of Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, and the refusal to acknowledge that prison tats make a black person (or anyone, for that matter) appear threatening. This last one seems a bit ironic, I know, but is consistent with the LR's very measured attempts at appearing to be non-racist. The fact is that the LR is actually very racist, indeed. Deep down, he/she is terrified of and/or disgusted by black people, yet desperately wants the world to know that they're cool and unaffected by racial distinctions, despite the fact that they filter everything they see through a color-sensitive lens.

3. If the subject is a friend, encourage them to fight the symptoms of latent racism. Make them aware that everyone is aware of the slight undercurrent of racial tension in this country, but that treating fashion magazine covers with the same gravitas as, say, real-life, violent racism (a la the Jena Six) is not the definition of progress. Inform them that they have nothing to feel guilty for, and that slavery was not their fault. Walking on eggshells around blacks or the issues surrounding blacks only drives the feelings of LR deeper within, and that treating them as poor, disadvantaged wretches (I am talking about affirmative action) is about the most condescending, insulting, and, well, racist thing that anyone can do.

4. Sit back and laugh as a few nuts in the media out themselves as being latent racists on a hair-trigger by getting all up in a tizzy and apologizing profusely for an image that doesn't even upset black people. Equally ridiculous will be the remaining contingent who, under the guise of neutrality, will try to stir up shit and lay the kindling for a flame war by posing it as an 'Is this offensive, America?' piece. They certainly need that manual.
P.S: I rescind that 'no-tittie' comment about Gisele. Subsequent photos reveal that she does, in fact, have boobs.


Pepe said...

For starters, I don't think that magazine cover is racist at all, and I wholeheartedly agree that anyone who invents a controversy over it is being an idiot or an asshole, or both. And I'm also glad you retracted the comment about Gisele's titties, which really got me fired up.

But what's the difference between TV-news talking heads blowing the cover out of proportion and using it as an excuse to call certain groups of people racist, and you doing pretty much the same thing? The criticism is aimed at different groups, but it seems like the same faulty argument: if somebody doesn't respond the way you/they want them to to the cover, they're a racist.

Responding to that cover by saying it's racist makes someone any one of a lot of things: overly sensitive, disingenuous, needlessly argumentative, paranoid, etc. But I fail to see how it makes them definitively a "latent racist," and it sure doesn't make them a bigot.

Also, re: the end of #3, that's a pretty classic line of neocon BS that misrepresents both the aims and effects of affirmative action.

Diesel said...

I realize that I've been in a fog for a while — one that might not be clearing anytime soon — but I have absolutely no fucking idea what objection anyone could have to that cover. If I had the energy, I'd try and find out what the "controversy" is all about, but I really don't care.

That's not a very flattering picture of Giselle.

Big C said...


I'll confess that this wasn't the most inspired bit of writing that I have ever done, and the intention of this post was really more as a discussion starter and cobweb cleaner than anything else.

That said, I guess there really isn't a whole lot of difference between myself and the talking heads in the "Hey, look at this!" regard, but I maintain that I am presenting the issue out of honest and noble intentions, whereas the Jemele Hills and Anne Currys of the world are doing so for nefarious purposes.

I pose the image as a social experiment and encourage people to examine the thought process(es) behind a given reaction (while interjecting my opinion, of course). I don't want anyone to react a given way, I would just like to see people take a deeper look at themselves. And this is something that I am perfectly willing to do introspectively. [Aside: I don't claim to be not-racist. I feel that everyone is a little racist, and to ignore this is to fight an incontrovertible truth. Pulling for the white guy in a boxing match doesn't make you David Duke, per se, it makes you human. It is a whole other enchilada to actually act violently or discriminatorily toward another human being, which is what society really needs to concern itself with.]

What the aforementioned pundits are doing is, in my mind, deplorable. By stirring up controversy where there is really none to be had, they are instigating the very thing they claim to find odious. The ugly fact is that racial controversy (or any form of human emotional response manipulation) sells papers and bolsters advertising revenue. I believe that while these media outlets claim to despise racism, they are, in reality, trying to promote it by fanning the flames of racial controversy. Racial harmony is the news exec's worst nightmare.

So, as a member of a generation who has been inundated with race-baiting propaganda his entire life, I am curious to see how many minds have been conditioned to see the emperor's new clothes.

I believe that you and I have different ideas of just what the intent and scope of affirmative action really is. 'Affirmative action' is a broad, general term, so there is potential for a lot of debate/flaming over nothing. I really, really, despise AA, but since it is entirely possible that we are defining the issue differently, it is likely that we actually agree? This may be one of those topics that isn't appropriate for blog debate, because I suspect that neither of us has the time/desire to state our arguments explicitly and in the proper detail.

Pepe said...

Well, this changes things a little:

Looks like the image might actually have been a semi-intentional statement on race.